(NOT) free education: Turkmen students suffer from “artificial obstacles” in the country

It is becoming more and more difficult for Turkmen students to get higher education both at home and abroad. The educational pleasure has turned into a real monetary “torture” for the population because to promptly obtain a visa, draw up documents, or buy a plane ticket, it is necessary to pay a bribe, otherwise, the authorities will “create artificial obstacles”. This was reported by Radio Azatlyk.

According to their information, although the Penza State University of Russia has agreed to increase the quota for Turkmen students, they have no advantages, and even on the contrary – bribes of tens of thousands of manats must be paid to go to study abroad without obstacles. This is while the number of Turkmen students at Penza State University has increased 20 times in the last 3 years (from 8 to 253 students).

Radio Azatlyk also reports that according to the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan, the agreement to increase quotas was reached on 16 October during a meeting of Turkmenistan’s Consul in Astrakhan Oblast Guich Garayev and Second Secretary Ashirali Nazarov with the Rector of Penza State University Alexander Gulyakov. Everything sounds good, Turkmenistan reached useful agreements with Russian higher education institutions, but at the same time, in the opinion of the local population, it has set up a scheme for financial enrichment through bribes.

If you refuse to pay a bribe, the local authorities will deliberately create bureaucratic difficulties. As a result, obtaining a visa, buying a ticket, and processing documents will take several months. In Mary province, young people wishing to study in Russia have to spend at least 50,000 manat (more than 14,000 US dollars at the Central Bank exchange rate) just to leave the country. These expenses mainly consist of bribes for visas, obtaining certificates, and buying an airplane ticket. But even this does not guarantee that the young man will be able to fly to his studies; students are regularly denied access to flights.

Students wishing to study in European universities will have to spend an average of AZN 200,000. Just to get a student visa to Europe they ask for a bribe of 30-40 thousand manat. This is not a cheap pleasure.

Due to the financial situation of citizens, in conditions of prolonged economic crisis, families cannot bear the high costs. Therefore, they have to send their children to Russia, Kazakhstan, or Turkey for education. Those whose situation is even worse enroll in universities in the country. Although the Turkmen legislation guarantees free education of citizens in most higher and secondary vocational educational institutions, for decades Turkmen families have had to pay bribes of hundreds of thousands of manat.

We would like to add that annually about 80-90 thousand students graduate from secondary schools of Turkmenistan and about 20 thousand of them enter Turkmen universities and secondary vocational schools.